On a beautiful, albeit really hot, June day my close friend decided to surprise me and took me to Yongin, Gyeonggi-do for a 'culture d...

Visit to Korean Folk Village (한국 민속촌)

Sunday, September 29, 2013 Unknown 0 Comments

On a beautiful, albeit really hot, June day my close friend decided to surprise me and took me to Yongin, Gyeonggi-do for a 'culture day'. We went to the Korean Folk village for the day, and it was quite an experience! So, read on if you're interested!

It was the last few days of a Joseon-themed happening at the village, during which you can dress up in traditional costumes for a short while, take pictures. In the above picture I'm wearing a traditional Korean dress - hanbok (한복). It's 'royal/fancy' type, as regular hanboks don't have that extended front on the jeogori (the jacket). It was very fun to wear it, and quite comfy, aside from the fact that it felt like a 100C while wearing...the only problem, and that's because I'm 'western' is that hanboks are traditionally made for Korean 'measurements', which means that my ..generous chestal area.. far exceeds the regular size that's expected to fit. The skirt, on the other hand, is something I'd want to wear every day! It ties just under the arms and could serve as a dress..oh how I wish!
Aside from the one flaw, I'm actually determined to have my own hanbok one day, custom made, of course!

Now, back to the village! You can get there by taking the bus Nr.5001-1 from Gangnam, and it'll take about 40 minutes to the destination. There's also a free shuttle going from Everland resort few times a day, but Gangnam was actually a closer option for us. The bus was comfortable and well-ventilated, as it was around 32C outside and humid (I'll take 'Korean Summer Hell' for five hundred). We left early, and I highly recommend getting there before noon, as you'll skip the big concession lines and will be able to catch all the shows without running around like a crazy person. The shows take place thrice a day, and while at different times, they're also at different places in the village. And since the village take up quite a lot of space, I highly doubt you'll be running from one corner to another. So, if you arrive early, you can space out the shows and watch them during different time slots, giving yourself time to walk around and explore the village itself without any pressure.

Now, once you arrive, you'll have to get your tickets - there are Adult, Youth and Child tickets (15,000W, 12,000W and 10,000W respectfully) just for the folk village, and additional 9,000W or 7,000W for combined entrance with the amusement park that's right beside the village. IF you're a student at a Korean university, bring your ID and ask for dicounts! Both me and my friend had our IDs and thus paid 20,000W in total, saving a whole 10,000W off the adult price!

Now, onto the village itself!! Are you a fan of Korean period dramas? Such as Arang and the Magistrate, Dr. Jin or Sungkyunkwan Scandal (there are many more, these are just more recent/popular)?? Well, a very big part of those dramas were filmed in the folk village! There are cardboard cutouts of famous characters scattered around the village for you to hug and take photos with (the hugging part's optional). And, actually exciting, we were caught in the middle of filming for Dr. Jin! When walking back we were stopped by a crew member and asked to wait around quietly for the filming to end...We even got a peak over a fence at the actors...Song Seung-hun, I was gushing over you ever so slightly! Anyway! It was really great to see the places I've seen on Arang and the Magistrate, sort of like stepping into the screen for a moment!

However, even if you're not a fan of the dramas, its an amazing place to visit. Once you get through the gates, it's like traveling back in time (with a bunch of other touristy looking people). The village looks extremely authentic and rustic, with all the workers dressed in period-appropriate clothing. This guy was simply fixing a tree, but he looked great!

I'll put more photos in the 'visual' part of this story, which will be the next blog post, as there are quite a few pictures, as well as a couple of videos! For now, look at this 'taffy man'! He was selling Korean taffy, a variety of yeot (엿).

Every house, barn, shed looked as if they were pulled from a history book. The houses of the 'nobles' had reenacted scenes of their life arranged inside, with mannequins dressed up in traditional clothing, and furniture, bedding and other things arranged as if for living. There were even living cows and chickens around!

The village provides brochures and maps to guide yourself around, and not to get lost, since it really is a vast space. There are many different attractions, and places to see. Also, there are a few restaurants where you can sit down for a very Korean meal. Some of them have more traditional seating, other places have something slightly more 'modern', yet still rustic enough. At the place we chose it was a cafeteria-type of serving - you pay for the meals you chose at the cashier first, and they give you 'tickets', which you later give to the person serving appropriate food of choice. Since neither of us were too hungry, and it was quite expensive, my friend and I chose a kind of jeon (전), rice and dongdongju (동동주, a type of liquor).

After this rustic meal we went back to exploring the village, and discovered a really fun activity going on on the top of a hill - gungsul (궁술) practice. Gungsul is traditional Korean archery, and for 5,000W anyone could get a set of 20 arrows and a bow and 'blow off some steam'. There were skilled archers demonstrating the proper way to shoot, they were also going around each person checking if their stance is correct, if they're holding the bow properly, teaching how to aim. Me and my friend shared the 20 arrows (it's allowed) and had an absolute blast! I discovered that I'm pretty good at archery, as told by the instructor, as he said I had 'an innate sense of aim' (sure..tell that to my numerous bruises from everything I've bumped into, but I'll take it!) Only one thing - be really careful with the position of your arm, I got distracted on my second shot, twisted my arm towards the arrow, and got a really nice, long bruise from the string...

The master himself! He gave such a detailed explanation about archery, and a short history of it in Joseon period (in Korea, I trust the translation provided by my friend).
In the picture bellow you can see him in action (the targets further from him are for kids, the 'adult' ones were much further than that. And this guy actually targeted a tree out of bounds..and nailed it!
There was also a big poster of the archery school these guys are from behind the field, and it looked extremely 'worn' (or should I say filled with holes?) from the 'overachieving' visitors :).

Now, after you've wandered around the place for a while, you'll want to make sure you catch the shows on display! We watched four of them - martial arts on horses, musical performance, a tightrope performance and a traditional wedding ceremony. Out of these my favorite were the martial arts and tightrope performances, as they were truly breathtaking and unique! The traditional music performance and wedding ceremony were also really interesting, yet the wedding was my least favorite as it was really...long. It was interesting to see it and hear the history behind it, but it was a little tiring, as it was a very subtle performance, and us being quite far away from it, we couldn't really take in the beauty of it.
I'll post pictures and videos from the martial arts, tightrope and music performances in the 'visual' post, for now enjoy couple shots from the wedding (they're not the best, we weren't at a very 'accessible' viewing angle)! The two court ladies on the bride's side help her keep the appropriate posture during the ceremony (as well as maneuver in the elaborate costume).

Bride's carriage
Wedding ceremony
After/during the long, adventurous day, you can take a break in one of many moderate size pavilions scattered across the perimeter of the village. And don't forget souvenirs! The village is full of souvenir shops/stands that carry a variety of different things to suit different tastes. You can find more 'common' souvenirs such as fans, keychains, chopsticks, hair pins, mirrors, cards, etc. Or, you can chose an 'alternative' type of souvenir - a drum, mask, a pair of traditional shoes. There are activities for children at these stands as well - you can decorate a mask together, or paint a bird-shaped whistle. I opted for a beautiful fan made of hand-painted hanji paper and a hanbok accessory (for my future hanbok, and for room decoration for now).

I also tried on these gorgeous traditional shoes hwahye (화혜 'flower shoes), but the price was a little out of my range that day, so I'll wait until I have a hanbok to wear them with! Other than that I left in a really happy mood, completely wiped out but chock full of amazing memories. Folk Village is definitely on my 'go back to' list, as I'm sure it takes on a different charm with each season. When/If visiting (and I highly suggest you do) don't forget to wear comfortable shoes, season-appropriate clothing, pack a light snack and drink, cash, a fully-charged camera, a bus schedule and an open heart to take in all the wonderfulness.

Off to the 'visual' post, where you'll see many more pictures from my day at 한국 민속촌.

Ciao for now!